By Ben Thorpe on 20 Feb 2018
Last year I was invited along to an "Ambassors' dinner" with Dine events over in Leeds which took place in the Mansion House at Roundhay Park. They pulled out all the stops to show off both the venue and their events offering to deliver a memorable evening. Having shown to be on top of their events game, Dine have developed a new catering offering to help you impress guests at your own event called Dine Delivered, which uses a bespoke interface to offer up a series of options and questions to attempt to tailor a menu for you personally. I didn't go through that, but still looked forward to receiving a sample to check out the quality of food on offer.
Having not been through the series of questions that would determine the menu, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the delivery arrived promptly in the promised time slot and was reassuringly chilled when I got through to emptying the contents. The only thing I knew was that I'd be receiving a three course meal for two, so I was happy to be surprised as I unboxed the delivery and stowed it in the fridge ready for a special Friday evening meal. Each element of the meal was accompanied by an instruction card that gave a brief description of the dish and clear, concise instructions on how to get it onto your plate. Having spent a good portion of my working life looking at project plans, I'd have quite liked to have a separate document that drew together the timings for each element of the meal, but I can see how labour intensive that would be to pull together. My former colleague who used a Gantt chart for his Christmas meal every year would have loved to see that!
The first course of our meal was an "Oak Roast Salmon Pate Martini" which arrived ready to serve without any intervention more taxing than sprinkling a couple of herbs across the service. The martini glass had pearls of cucumber in the base and a spiced tomato jelly across the surface to sandwich flakes of smoked salmon. Having already got the larger parts of the main course in the oven, there was little to do other than enjoy the starter, easily achieved with the balance of spiced tomato and cool cucumber pairing off nicely against the salmon.
The main course didn't require any notable skill to get to the table, requiring just oven reheating of chicken, cabbage and carrots while creamed potatoes just needed a visit to the microwave, as with thyme jus. I managed to plate everything up with almost as much delicacy as it deserved and was impressed with almost everything the dish 'delivered' (sorry). All the quoted timings were correct so the porcini chicken was tender and was reassuringly well seasoned without showing any disadvantage from being reheated at home while the creamed potatoes were smooth and comfortingly rich. The carrots were seasoned with orange butter and gave lightness to the dish though the cabbage parcel was less successful, being unnecessarily skewered with a sharp flavour reminiscent of fresh horseradish or even wasabi. Thankfully that was easy enough to look past due to the thyme jus pulling everything together with impressive aplomb thanks to tremendous richness and depth.
The final dish was a salted caramel slice with a fruit compote that was rich enough to defeat me in one go and therefore provided a second sitting the following day with leftovers. It was a suitably impressive and indulgent way to end an impressive meal that I may or may not have been able to replicate myself with considerable effort.
Dine Delivered is available at surprisingly short notice and, for a menu similar to that described here, would run you around thirty five pounds for two people. The food I received was easy to get to the table and well realised, offering scope to impress without the anxiety one might attract when attempting to score points by cooking from scratch. I was happy that the delivery delivered.
Disclaimer: No charge was made for this experience, opinions are as impartial as ever.